Fearful (7)

It takes so little to unsettle me these days. I am too soon upended, floored and flummoxed. Something is out to get me. Or at least that is how it feels. I am consequently, on my guard and edgy. I snap and jar. And yet how I long for peace. An internal peace that radiates outwards. A warmth. I try to be kind, thoughtful, aware, doing my work, whether it be professional or domestic with care. But I feel so vulnerable, so open to attack. From whom or what, I cannot say. He thinks it is the menopause. That that is the root cause of my anxiety, my waterlogging, my  breathlessness, my un-wellness. Is it? Is that all it is? After all women have lived through it for centuries, haven’t they? Is it truly such an affliction? I want to accept it. To embrace it. To see the changes it wrings through my body as a good thing, a curious, a wondrous thing. I am ageing. I am moving towards my death, my cancellation. And I am ready, now or later, whenever, to return to my starting place. That nothingness. I don’t mind. Truly, I don’t. But before that comes I’d like to live as well, as kindly, as openly, as joyfully as I may. But how? With this fear, this fearfulness assailing me?

I managed an hour’s rest yesterday afternoon. I’d finished the piece and A. had photographed it. A treat was due. I slept while he watched the World Cup on TV. The dream I woke from had played out what we’d discussed in the car earlier. There was an old woman. She was tiny, miniscule. She’d worked as a trolley dolly on a train and had been promised something different, better, more lofty. But her friend and colleague had tricked her, or so she believed, and there she was back on the train doing exactly what she’d always done but this time the train was speeding backwards. He was hurt that she was disappointed. And pointed out the compensation that was that this time she was to dress up. When I saw her, before I woke she was wearing an immense bright red wig like one of Ken Dodd’s diddy men high on her head and a tartan skirt.

This morning I woke with the sentence: ‘ There are little boys everywhere..’ in my head.

I called myself ordinary. I said it, allowing it to be. Not to me you aren’t, he said. I know. But in essentials I am. Does it matter? Really? Just put one foot in front of the other. Do the best you can.

It was warm as I walked this morning. And in the house when I returned. The sun of the evening before had left a residue of comfort. I like that. Laurie Lee wrote of the joy of a Spanish morning after the heat of the day before. I keen towards the simplicity of existence he writes of. The walking, the violin playing for money, the sleeping in barns, the eating of figs and goat’s cheese. A life stripped bare of care, of the heaviness of ownership. I have had such moments as a young woman. They are rare these days. This body is a weight as is my mind with it’s demanding ten thousand things. I have still so much to learn, to slough off.

And there is such cruelty. We are capable of so much. Listening to the programme about noise and it’s re-envisaging of the amphitheatre in Ancient Rome where they were purported to have killed ten elephants. That sound was truly dreadful. And the crowds watched and bayed. They chose to watch. The same baiting goes on today but less overt though just as cruel. Is it not simpler to just be kind?

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.